One Holdout Juror Saved James Holmes

Death penalty required a unanimous decision
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2015 6:32 AM CDT
One Holdout Juror Saved James Holmes
Sandy Phillips, front right, who lost her daughter in the Aurora, Colo., theatre massacre in July 2012, greets an unidentified woman as Phillips' husband, Lonnie, back right, looks on.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

James Holmes will live out his life in prison instead of facing execution because one of his 12 jurors wouldn't budge on the subject. Nine others wanted the death penalty and two were unsure but willing to discuss it, but Holmes' life was spared because a unanimous decision is needed, reports NBC News. "The person was solidly and definitely in that position and they weren't going to change," another of the jurors explained to reporters afterward, per the Denver Post. The reason was Holmes' mental health.

"The issue of mental illness was everything for the one who did not want to impose the death penalty," says the juror, who was not named. She added that things remained civil, but the group decided to wrap up after about seven hours because it was clear nothing would change. "The jury instructions were clear this was an individual decision, and we had to make it based on our own moral view of what's right and wrong." Another of the jurors had the group watch grisly video of victims at the crime scene, in an apparent attempt to sway the lone juror. (More James Holmes stories.)

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